Orienteering race (Long; course 8, F35+) 2:28:29  10.08 km (14:44 / km)
[Warning: Longggg post about today's Long race]
My goal for today's 6.3 km Long course was to complete it within the 3-hour time limit. No MPs!
Had a bit of a restless night last night, due in part to stressing that I was really overfacing myself with a 6 km course, 5 months after first holding an orienteering map. It crossed my mind to ask for a very last-minute change to a shorter course in Open, but I didn't want to cause a fuss. And, naturally I wanted a shot at redemption after my horrendous run yesterday.
I can't beat around the bush any longer (did enough of that already today) -- Success! Woo!!!
Although you'd never know it from how long it took me today (almost 2.5 hours for 10 kms covered), today's run went wayyyyy better than yesterday's. None of the endless major mistakes shooting off in a majorly wrong direction and having to backtrack time after time, and was happily surpised by several legs where I landed on the control straight away. (Still don't know how I managed to go so terrifically off course, so frequently, yesterday.)
Today's terrain seemed a lot more runnable than yesterday, nowhere near as much rocky land, so that was fun. And, few to none of today's controls were assisted by seeing other orienteers nearby; found them fair and square on my own. That was a good confidence boost after yesterday's fiasco. The 1:15,000 scale was fine; 100 walking paces per cm, nice easy math.
Control #1: Oh good, a nice short leg to get started. Landed in the southern yellow bit, eventually moved over to the correct one.
#2: Yay, a handrail! Followed the road to the path, then into the woods.
#3: Ooh, a longer leg. In retrospect there's no reason why I couldn't have aimed for the big marsh with the island and gone from there, but this early into the course I was still paranoid about my mystery offcourses yesterday, so chose instead a substantially longer handrail route, taking the trail south then following the old fence. Repeatedly reminded myself along the way that I was going for 3, not 4; really didn't want to MP!
#4, #5: Can't remember much about these.
#6: Ooooooh, the long leg and the source of much of my angst while trying to sleep last night! I thanked my lucky stars that the leg had plenty of unmistakeable features along the way, not much chance to go majorly off course. Bounced myself along from one pond/swamp to the next, attacking from the southern tip of the last uncrossable marsh. Unfortunately my attack was off base so I spent quite some time searching the area fruitlessly. Eventually came to the water pit (sigh of relief) and was able to attack cleanly from there.
#7: Fairly straightforward.
#8: Augh!!!! Had SUCH a hard time with this one, despite it being the shortest leg. I actually had to re-attack from #7 two or three times before eventually finding it. I was surprised at having so much difficulty with this leg, because each time from #7 I took what I thought was a very careful bearing and counted my steps. Was beginning to think this control would be my demise resulting in an MP or pushing me beyond the 3-hour limit; may have uttered a few choice words at this point, but hallelujah, eventually found it.
#9: Went north to the path, attacked from the fork. A cool moment spotting a rat snake on approach to the refreshment control! Quite big, happy to not be afraid of snakes. The bulletin had said that there were rat snakes at Foley, so I was really happy to have seen one. Well, assuming it was a rat snake -- was mostly darkish, with diamondish markings.
Tick, tock, tick, tock... Reached the 2-hour mark now. 1 hour left. Figured it should be feasible, *if* I'd manage to avoid major mistakes for the rest of the course, but definitely not a given with yesterday's endless huge errors still fresh in my mind.
#10: Took a fairly straight path from 9 to 10, so lots of hill climbing along the way.
#11-16: Speaking of hills, hoooo-eeeee, en route to #11 I was really feeling my tank was near empty. Gained a real appreciation of why they say the long is such a test of endurance. Fortunately these last controls were fairly straightforward, don't recall too much. If I'm reading the splits right, among F35+ I was 3rd on the 11-12 leg and 4th on the 10-11 leg; not sure why those legs ranked that high when most of the others I was around 9th, which is the final position I landed in.
Held my breath as the print-out printed -- and lo and behold, no MP! Woo!
A great race with which to end my O-Fest / COC experience.
Huge thanks to the organizers and all the volunteers!